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J Cell Biol. 2005 Apr 11;169(1):179-89.

Laminin-sulfatide binding initiates basement membrane assembly and enables receptor signaling in Schwann cells and fibroblasts.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Endoneurial laminins (Lms), beta1-integrins, and dystroglycan (DG) are important for Schwann cell (SC) ensheathment and myelination of axons. We now show that SC expression of galactosyl-sulfatide, a Lm-binding glycolipid, precedes that of Lms in developing nerves. This glycolipid anchors Lm-1 and -2 to SC surfaces by binding to their LG domains and enables basement membrane (BM) assembly. Revealingly, non-BM-forming fibroblasts become competent for BM assembly when sulfatides are intercalated into their cell surfaces. Assembly is characterized by coalescence of sulfatide, DG, and c-Src into a Lm-associated complex; by DG-dependent recruitment of utrophin and Src activation; and by integrin-dependent focal adhesion kinase phosphorylation. Collectively, our findings suggest that sulfated glycolipids are key Lm anchors that determine which cell surfaces can assemble Lms to initiate BM assembly and DG- and integrin-mediated signaling.

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